You can get tickets to the Sistine Chapel and manage to skip the lines at the Vatican. In this post, I’ll explain how.

One of the most common sights in Rome is that of tourists in line to get tickets to the Sistine Chapel. I have joined those lines myself a few times, without giving it much thought – Rome is an easy trip for me and I go at least a couple of time per year, so I get to spend plenty of time in the city.

However, I can only imagine how disheartening it may be for a tourist to have to spend hours in line to get tickets to the Vatican for the chance to admire the work of Michelangelo. For as easy as it may be for me to travel to Rome, to them this may well be a once in a lifetime opportunity – they may have only a few days in the city, and if they spend hours in line at the Vatican, they may end up having to skip another attraction, like the Colosseum.

Check out my smart guide on how to get tickets to the Colosseum.

In this post, I will explain how you can get tickets to the Sistine Chapel and make the most of your time there. Before I do so, however, let me explain what’s so special about the Sistine Chapel and the Vatican and why you should not miss them on your trip to Rome.

tickets to the Sistine Chapel

A real work of art!

Why You Have To Visit The Sistine Chapel During Your Trip To Rome

If you are wondering where is the Sistine Chapel, let me clarify that the Sistine Chapel and the Vatican Museums are actually not in Rome, but in Vatican City. However, as Vatican City is at the center of Rome, you can easily visit during your trip to the Italian capital.

Together with St. Peter’s Basilica, the Sistine Chapel is the most famous site in Vatican City. This is where Michelangelo painted his masterpiece, The Last Judgement, more than 500 years ago. Right next to the Sistine Chapel, the Vatican Museums display the enormous collection of art accumulated by the various popes throughout the centuries.

If you enjoy fine arts, there is no way you want to skip the Sistine Chapel and the Vatican Museums. If you are an unsuccessful backpacker like I am, chances are you may end up in line for hours to get in. But worry not! Continue reading and I will explain how you can get your tickets to the Sistine Chapel and avoid the lines.

Looking for more things to do in Rome? Check out my post “27 Unmissable, Fun And Cheap Things To Do In Rome.”

Visiting The Sistine Chapel

The Sistine Chapel is located in the Apostolic Palace, the official residence of the Pope. Originally known as Cappella Magna, it takes its name from Pope Sixtus IV, who initiated restoration works in 1477 and used it for both religious purposes and for his functions as pope. Nowadays, the Sistine Chapel is the site of the Papal Conclave, the process through which a new pope is elected.

What makes the Sistine Chapel such a popular place to visit is the many incredible frescoes that adorn it. These include works of Botticelli, Pinturicchio and Ghirlandaio. Yet, it’s The Last Judgement, painted on the ceiling of the Chapel by Michelangelo between 1535 and 1541 upon request of Pope Clement VII and Paul III, that attracts thousands of visitors every day.

TIP: Unless you are an art historian, I strongly advise you to get tickets of the Sistine Chapel that include a guided tour. For as nice as it is to just raise your head and appreciate the beauty of all the frescoes, it’s great to have someone that helps you put everything in context and get a better understanding of the historical, cultural and artistic value of what you are seeing.

The Vatican Museums

Located right next to the Sistine Chapel and usually visited right after, the Vatican Museums have a formidable collection of religious and art works – from Roman sculptured to masterpieces of Renaissance art.

The Museums were founded by Pope Julius II in the early 16th century, have a whopping 54 galleries and not only they are among the largest museums in the world, but they also are one of the most visited.

Tickets to the Sistine Chapel usually include entry to the Vatican Museums.

tickets to the Sistine Chapel

It’s not that hard to skip the line at the Vatican

Six Smart Ways To Get Tickets To The Sistine Chapel And The Vatican Museums And Skip The Line

More than 25000 people visit the Sistine Chapel and the Vatican Museums every day. It’s one of the most famous places to visit in the world, but unfortunately also one of the world’s 10 worst tourist attractions for lines, with a waiting time that can go up to four hours.

Yes, that’s how long it may take to get your €17 tickets to the Sistine Chapel. I have seen those lines myself a few times when I visited Rome in the last few years – they go all the way around the walls of Vatican City, with people waiting patiently in the sun and even under the rain.

TIP: The Sistine Chapel and the Vatican Museums are even more packed than usual when passengers of cruise ships are in town. If you want to avoid them, try to go between 12:00 and 2:00 pm, when most of the group tours are having lunch.

I am hardly a fan of lines myself, and I’d do anything to avoid them – as long as it is respectful to other tourists, obviously. The good news is that there are tickets to the Sistine Chapel and the Vatican Museums that will allow you to skip the lines, and they even include a guide.

These are the most popular tours and tickets to the Sistine Chapel and the Vatican Museums:

TIP: No matter the kind of tickets to the Sistine Chapel you get, you’re bound to stand in line for the security checks. Beware of companies that suggest you may avoid these lines.

Continue reading to find the best ways to get tickets to the Sistine Chapel and skip the line.

tickets to the Sistine Chapel

The Vatican is no doubt a must see

Way n. 1: Go on a guided tour

Buying a guided tour with tickets to the Sistine Chapel and the Vatican Museums is the best way to skip the line (though remember, you’ll always have to line up for the security checks). The prices of tour vary, depending on whether you pick a group or a private tour.

Guided group tours

Guided group tours are a great way to visit a place, especially one where you’re likely to need a lot of information to put everything in context and better appreciate what you are seeing. A guided tour to the Sistine Chapel and the Vatican Museums also has the great advantage that you can skip the line to get the ticket.

TIP: Even with skip the line tickets, you’ll have to go through a line, though this is significantly shorter than the one to get tickets at the venue.

Guided group tours of the Sistine Chapel and The Vatican Museum start at €27 and get more pricey depending on the various add ons.

These are the best guided group tours with skip the line tickets to the Sistine Chapel:

Guided private tours

A guided private tour has the great advantage that you still get a guide, but you can go at your own pace. These tours are definitely more expensive than the group options, with prices starting at €75 per person, but worth the price if you like the idea of having a guide at your disposal.

These are the best guided private tours with skip the line tickets to the Sistine Chapel:

tickets to the Sistine Chapel

An early morning tour with tickets to the Sistine Chapel is ideal

Way n. 2: Get tickets to the Sistine Chapel and the Vatican Museums with an audio guide

If you like the idea of doing your own thing, you may want to opt for tickets to the Sistine Chapel and the Vatican Museums that include an audio guide. This gives you the great advantage to go at your own pace, skip the parts that you are not interested in, and linger a bit longer on those that catch your attention.

Prices for tickets to the Sistine Chapel with audio guides start at €34. You can buy them here.

Way n. 3: Go very early with a guide

Believe it or not, but the good old trick of having an early start actually works. You can get in the Sistine Chapel as early as 7:30 am. However, in order to have the privilege of getting early access, you have to buy your tickets to the Sistine Chapel through a tour operator, and you will have to go with a guide. Indeed, apparently tour operators pay large sums of money to be able to use the back exit which goes directly to Saint Peter’s Basilica – which individuals can’t use.

Prices of early morning Vatican tours start at €50.

TIP: Early Wednesday mornings are good to visit the Sistine Chapel: crowds will start arriving after 11:00 am, once the Papal audience has ended.

These are the best early access tours with tickets to the Sistine Chapel and the Vatican Museums:

Way n. 4: Go at night

This is one of the most exclusive ways of visiting the Sistine Chapel and the Vatican Museums, and it is only possible on Fridays, between the end of April and the end of October, when the Vatican Museums stay open until 11:00 pm and allow access as late as 9:30 pm. It’s definitely a bit more expensive than a regular tour, but great option if you like the idea of having the Museums and the Chapel almost completely to yourself.

Prices for night tours of the Vatican start at €36 and they include tickets to the Sistine Chapel.

TIP: If you are like the idea of visiting the Vatican at night, make sure to plan your trip around it, getting to Rome on a Thursday and leaving no earlier than a Saturday.

These are the best night time tours with tickets to the Sistine Chapel and the Vatican Museums:

tickets to the Sistine Chapel

Tickets to the Sistine Chapel include entry to the Vatican Museums and at times even a guided tour of St. Peter’s Basilica

Way n. 5: Get the Rome City Pass or the Vatican Pass

The Rome City Pass and the Vatican Pass are excellent options if you want to skip the line at the Vatican Museums and get access to other attractions in Rome. There are various passes that offer considerable savings both in terms of time and money.

  • Carta Turistica di Roma – prices start at €67.50 and in this case tickets to the Sistine Chapel and the Vatican Museum are add ons. It includes access to the Colosseum.
  • Vatican and Rome card – it only costs €55 and it includes tickets to the Sistine Chapel and entry to 2 archeological sites or museums of your choice. It’s the best option as it also gives you a 20% discount to other sites. The only disadvantage is that the site is in Italian only.
  • 72 hours Rome pass – the cheapest option, as it only costs €38.50. The audio guide to the Vatican Museum is an add on.
  • Vatican and Rome city pass – costing €113, it includes skip the line tickets to the Sistine Chapel and to the Colosseum, as well as a hop on hop off bus pass.
  • Vatican, Colosseum, Pantheon and Castel Sant’Angelo pass – the most inclusive of all the options, it costs €125.

Way n. 6: Get the official tickets to the Sistine Chapel and the Vatican Museums online

This is the official website to get tickets to the Sistine Chapel and the Vatican Museums. Online tickets cost €17 and there is a €4 reservation fee (total of €21). You can only buy these tickets up to 60 days in advance and for a maximum of 10 persons. Reduced tickets for children between 6 and 18 years of age are €8 but you’ll need a document to prove your child’s age at the venue. You will be sent a confirmation email with a PDF which you either print or show on your smartphone. These tickets are basic and do not include a guide or an audio guide.

tickets to the Sistine Chapel

There are many ways of getting tickets to the Sistine Chapel and the Vatican Museums

Other Practical information for people visiting the Sistine Chapel and the Vatican Museums

Opening times

The Sistine Chapel and the Vatican Museums are open from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm (latest access is at 4:00 pm) from Mondays to Saturdays. They are also open every last Sunday of the month.

They remain close on 1 January, 11 February, 19 March, 22 April, 1 May, 29 June, 14 and 15 August, 1 November, 25 and 26 December.

Night Openings

From the end of April to the end of October, the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel are open until 11:00 pm (latest access is at 9:30 pm) on Friday nights.

Official tickets

Official tickets to the Sistine Chapel and the Vatican Museums cost €17. Reduced tickets for children between the ages of 6 and 18 cost €8.

Dress code

Make sure to dress modestly for your visit to the Vatican Museum and the Sistine Chapel. Visitors are regularly turned down for not being dressed appropriately.

Security checks

No matter what kind of ticket you have, you’ll have to go through a metal detector. To speed up the security checks, avoid bringing objects such as large umbrellas, sticks (unless walking sticks), selfie sticks and tripods – you’ll have to leave them at the cloakroom anyways.

Photography and drawing

Photos are not allowed in the Sistine Chapel. Photos of the Vatican Museum are allowed only for personal use. The use of flash is not allowed, as well as that of tripods and selfie sticks.

Drawings are allowed only after having obtained a special permission by the Directorate of the Vatican Museums, or for students enrolled at the Rome Academy of Fine Arts.

Personal belongings

You have to leave bags, backpacks or trolleys at the cloakroom. This is free of charge.

Have you ever seen the Sistine Chapel? Do you have any tips to add to get tickets to the Sistine Chapel?

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Discover where to get tickets to the Sistine Chapel and the Vatican Museums and skip the lines - via @clautavani

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